The pregnant woman who was dragged off of a Southwest Airlines flight at BWI Airport last week is pushing back against the narrative given by the airline, saying she didn’t actually tell staff she had a life-threatening allergy. She’s also arguing she was racially profiled.
Anila Daulatzai, a 46-year-old Maryland Insitute College of Art professor, has said in a statement through her lawyer that she asked to be moved toward a different section of her plane last Tuesday night upon learning there were two dogs onboard in carriers. She buckled in and was sitting grading papers when staff asked her a series of questions. They then asked her to get off the plane, the statement said.
Daulatzai, who’s also two months pregnant, confirmed a small piece of what the airline said to be true: She has an allergy to dogs. However, “Daulatzai never asked for the dogs to be removed from the plane, did not request an EpiPen, nor did she ever claim that her allergies were life-threatening.”
After she declined requests from the crew that she leave, a Maryland Transportation Authority Officer “pulled her from her seat by her belt loop, dragged her through the aisle exposed with torn pants, and humiliated her for the world to see in a now viral video,” the statement continues. “ The Maryland Transportation Authority Police later disparaged her, accused her of lying about her pregnancy, and made racist remarks about immigrants. They also handed her a list of criminal charges, which have no merit.”
“I was a brown woman with a hoodie,” Daulatzai said to ABC News.
In a video of the incident shot by a passenger, others can be heard shouting,”She’s walking!” as officers forcibly carry her off. “Then walk!” one of the officers shouts at Daulatzai in response.
She’s now planning to sue.
Southwest said in a statement to ABC that it already apologized for the incident, and was unable to reach Daulatzai. While the airline officials said they are “disheartened by the way this situation unfolded and the customer’s removal by local law enforcement officers,” they noted their policies allow for the removal of a passenger if they report a life-threatening allergy.
“Our reports indicate the Customer stated that she had a life-threatening pet allergy,” the airline said, “but she was unable to provide the medical certificate necessary to complete travel.”
Southwest also said its crew members “made repeated attempts to explain the situation to the Customer, however, she refused to deplane and law enforcement became involved. We do not have any further comment to provide.”
MDTA defended its officer in a statement: “Despite her clear attempt to resist a law enforcement officer, Ms. Daulatzai was professionally removed from the aircraft within the guidelines of the MDTA Police.”
Daulatzai is two months pregnant with her first child and was reportedly headed to Los Angeles to visit her elderly father. Her attorney’s statement said she suffered physical injuries and mental trauma and needed emergency care after the incident, “including for her pregnancy.”
She’s since left her home after receiving hate mail, racist messages and “threats of further violence,” in addition to being targeted in a break-in, the statement said.